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Monday, November 18, 2013

Cleopatra Soap

During the early 1960's, Colgate-Palmolive was looking to create a special luxury soap for a targeted demographic, women aged from 18-49 to compete with Dove, which had always been the most expensive brand of soap available for many years. After plenty of research, Colgate-Palmolive introduced their Cleopatra brand soap inspired by the queen of the Nile’s own beauty regimen.

The soap was developed in France and the company decided not make any changes for the Canadian market. The Cleopatra soap was marketed as a “premium quality, premium priced beauty soap” and was their answer to Dove, the leader in the skincare segment.

Like Dove, Cleopatra soap had boasted a base of beauty cream in its unique formula, this time at 15% along with some of the finest ingredients. Its scent was also made in France of the highest quality essential oils and was said to have an “unforgettable fragrance.”

The shape of the soap bar was carved to fit the hand and make it easier to hold, it was also stamped with the Cleopatra logo. Packaged in elegant gold colored cartons to bring it an air of affluence and to set it apart from other soaps on the market rather than the simple paper packaging it had in France.

Because Cleopatra was marketed as a very premium bath and beauty product, the company decided not to offer any discounts on the soap. Each carton was packed forty eight to a case, with a fixed price of $41.71. Colgate-Palmolive’s strategy was to price Cleopatra higher than Dove, which had always been the most expensive brand for years.

Colgate-Palmolive decided it would use a different marketing approach with Cleopatra than other companies, by not competing on price, with those who considered soap to be no more than a commodity.

The soap was well received in France and then launched in Quebec, whose population is mainly of French ancestry. For the Canadian launch, the company employed many promotions and wanted their demand to come directly from the consumers themselves which meant they needed as much exposure of their product as possible. To encourage this, the company needed a strong media presence and promotions aimed at consumers with a very strong emphasis on advertisements on television.

They had a specific plan which was to earn a 15% “share of voice” for the Cleopatra brand. They used the same commercial which was shown in France, and only had to make some small changes to fit their new target.

Sales promotions using coupons were another important strategy with the promotion of Cleopatra. Research found that 64% of people would buy the Cleopatra soap after trying it. With this in mind, Colgate-Palmolive gave away “Free Bar Coupons” to 250,000 households. Other promotions such as the “Cleopatra Gold Collection and Sweepstakes” offered consumers a wide range of affordable jewelry. Those who purchased the jewelry would then be entered into a chance to win a 14kt gold necklace in the Cleopatra style, which was popularized after Elizabeth Taylor’s blockbuster Cleopatra in 1963. Fashion designers, coiffeurs, jewelers and cosmeticians went wild for The Egyptian Look.

Another contest called the “Dreamstakes” whose first prize was a 21 day Mediterranean cruise for two on the American Export Liner Constitution. “fly to New York for a whirlwind three day at the Waldorf. Then board the Constitution bound for Casablanca, Rome, Monaco, Cannes and other ports, travel arrangements by Thos Cook and Sons. Enjoy the Constitution double suit with veranda: fresh flowers daily, room service the entire staff at your command. Also - a mink trimmed robe and gown by Seamprufe. A year’s supply of perfume. “The Second prize was a $1000 diamond ring, one full carat in the exclusive Sarong Twilight Design Setting- created with care by Caribe. Caribe Diamond Works, Puerto Rico.” “The 3-4-5-6 Prizes consisted of a fashionable lingerie wardrobe by Seamprufe. $200 worth of beautifully styled lingerie with extravagant laces and the finest quality workmanship.” 500 more prizes - Le Dix by Balenciaga in its elegant spill-proof spray atomizer. “The essence of elegance…the fragrance to melt a heart of stone.”

The Cleopatra soap was then marketed to the United States in 1963, starting in Florida. Voluptuous Broadway actress Tina Louise was touring the state on behalf of Cleopatra soap. Her sultry look and past roles helped Colgate Palmolive choose Tina to be their spokesmodel for the soap, in television commercials and nationwide tours, in which the press agent for the company who accompanied Miss Louise during her tours, described her as “lush looking.” Although she admitted to feeling a little silly about the whole thing. “I just wanted to be a little different’ to give you something to write about.”

Wearing a fabulous costume inspired by the famous Egyptian queen, Miss Louise wore an extravagant hat designed by John Fredericks and was adapted from Cleopatra’s famous headdress, composed of myriads of golden leaves sewn onto a net base. Her dress, made by designer Elgee Bove of New York had a “triangular bib with the modern Cleo feeling“. Sheathed in a simple little white gown made up of silk linen , bared nearly to the waist in the back. Her right arm was wrapped with a gilded metal snake with beady little eyes, and her throat was encircled by green and gold beads linked to a mesh of gold which fell over her cleavage in a wide v shape.. The only thing not Cleopatra inspired was her low-heeled white pumps. “I always wear one-inch heels,” the 5 foot 8 ½” auburn haired 27yr old explained. “I don’t really like to be taller than men and I find with that size heels I’m only a little taller than the average man.”

Tina applied her own makeup in a heavy, sexy queen of the Nile like way with drawing the eyes with black and drawn straight across to separate at the outer edge, creating an optical illusion of outsized orbs. Her signature black beauty mark was also caused by her eyeliner, a natural blemish on her left cheek which she only darkened it to create more of a glamorous look. Reporters asked her if the “eyelines” were part of the costume. “No. This is always the way I wear my makeup,” she said.

Tina‘s role was to represent the legendary figure and reveal a fount of fascinating data on the beauty secrets of the soap‘s namesake. “Surprisingly enough,” Miss Louise said, “the beauty problems imposed by nature in Cleopatra’s Egypt were strikingly similar to those right here in Florida: sand, sun, heat and high humidity. Oils and scents were therefore, the most important parts of Cleopatra’s beauty ritual - bathing. “According to Plutarch.” continued the actress, “she sent camel caravans thousands of miles into India and Madagascar to bring her rare oils of lemongrass, jasmine and precious white ylang ylang blossoms to be blended by her high priests into secret perfumes that scented her warm pool.”

“It was the Egyptians who invented the warm bath and it was Cleopatra who refined it to a beauty ritual,” said Miss Louise. “To Cleopatra beauty was not a vanity, it was a weapon and she constantly maintained it as her armament”

It is also said that Cleopatra supplemented her warm baths with an exotic regimen of sand washes, immersions in mule’s milk and oil massages. The sand washes cleansed the pores, and the mule’s milk softened the skin. Her handmaidens massaged her body with neroli oil to keep it youthful and supple.. according to Miss Louise‘s research..

The actress went on to recall Shakespeare’s description of Cleopatra’s entrance on her barge, ‘Purple were the sails, and the air was so perfumed that the winds were lovesick with it.’ And it was this divine fragrance that presumably captivated Antony from the start.”

“The modern woman hasn’t the pocketbook to send a camel caravan to India, nor does she have the time for such folderol as sand washes or mules milk baths, smiles Louise. “However,, the care of her skin is just as important to today’s housewife as it was to Cleopatra.”. She warns, “never never take scalding hot baths. The water should be slightly warmer than body temperature. And of course, use a scented, oil based soap. We ladies can be thankful that someone else has gone to the trouble of getting all of those marvelous fragrances and oils and putting them into one beauty soap.”

Miss Louise then added, among her beauty hints, that a good beauty soap makes ideal sachets for lingerie drawers and also served as a inexpensive body sachet or skin freshener. She then suggested that you could “simply rub the dry soap on your arms, neck and behind your knees where you’ll discover the jasmine fragrance would remain with you for hours. It’s a delightful and easy way to be as bewitching as Cleopatra between baths.

A 1963 advertisement for Cleopatra soap reads:
“Cleopatra new body soap with five fragrant oils. Take the plunge and lose yourself in the subtle, sultry mysteries of five fragrant oils ! For here inspired by the ancient Egyptian queen’s beauty ritual - is new Cleopatra beauty soap with five fragrant oils! And the feeling is nothing sort of devastating. Every time you use new Cleopatra beauty soap, its rich, creamy lather drenches your skin with moisture! Cleopatra’s fragrant oils actually caress you as you bath! You can feel new softness flow over every female inch of you! And through it all, your heads swims with jasmine - the most provocative fragrance a woman ever tangled with! Plunge into a flirtation with this soothing, smoothing - yet strangely stimulating - soap just once…and you’ll understand by even Caesar fell…..plunge into a flirtation with the forbidden….the soap that whispers you’re a woman.”

A 1964 ad reads:
“Cleopatra Beauty Soap, instant luxury, just add water, ivory tinted beauty bars from Colgate-Palmolive for bath for beauty for bubbles”

So what does Cleopatra beauty soap smell like? It was a blend of five essential oils: jasmine, neroli, ylang ylang, lemongrass and copra, essence of coconut oil. 


  1. Where can I possibly find some of the original purple package Cleopatra soap?!?!?! I've only been looking for about half an hour, where some have looked for years, but it's maddening!

    1. M looking to been lookin for ages no luck yet !!!!!

    2. I'm trying to find even their shower gels,but nothing. I Don't know what is going on with those products.

  2. Please advise manufacturer contact details for Cleopatra Soap

  3. I ulstarted ysung the original Cleipatra in the blue/gold wrap back in 1989 in the UK. I can't find it in the US. I'm going to contact Colgate/Palmolive. It has such an unforgettable scent.

  4. I used Cleopatra soap on my face as a 16 or 17 year old. Only once. I woke up the next day with a swollen face and a red rash all over my face. I never knew what caused it but I did not use the soap again.


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